Saturday, 22 March 2008

Gammy knee

As I mentioned at the start of the year my gammy knee has been flaring up.

I decided to take advantage of my work's private healthcare insurance and see if I could get it sorted out.

It's actually slightly more involved to get an MRI scan privately than through the NHS as they insurers want you to be referred by a consultant rather than the GP. From those I've spoken to, the main difference is that getting that first scan appointment is much faster once you go private.

Anyway, I've now had the scan, and the consultant has taken a look and can't see a thing wrong with any of the structures in my knee.

The next step was to try a cortisone injection in my knee to see if that would stop whatever was getting inflamed in my knee.

So on Wednesday I went in to the hospital and got a mixture of anaesthetic and cortisone injected in my knee.

Soon as I got home from the hospital I thought I would go for a run to test my new steroid enhanced knee...

YOU DID WHAT?! what everyone has said to me when I tell them that.

However, the idea is that the anaesthetic acts immediately where it is injected, therefore I needed to go for a run to test whether the injection had been in the correct place. If I felt no pain then the anaesthetic was in the correct place, therefore the steroid would also be in the correct place.

Well, it's fair to say everything expect my knee hurt during the run. Mainly my lungs. I was missing my little W pace-setter!

As the anaetheic wore off in the afternoon I could feel my knee a little bit, but nothing bad (remember last time I went for a run I couldn't walk in the afternoon).

on Thursday, however, I was in a fair bit of pain and was limping about in the office.

This meant one of two things: the steroid probably was in the right place but had made no difference, or this was the initial reaction to the steroid injection (which, I was warned, meant my knee might hurt for 24h).

So now my knee feels fine. I will probably try another run next weekend to test it again. Fingers crossed... then my international rugby career can recommence.

On Monday I go off to India for work for a week. Should be interesting!

(pic above is not my knee!)

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Why Scotland are so Rubbish at Rugby

It's really tough supporting Scotland at rugby. Really difficult watching them play and thinking, "that is the best our nation can do". The thing that gets me, is that Scotland's backs never look like breaking the line. Whenever Shane Williams or Jason Robinson gets/got the ball, you were always expecting the jinky little gits to magically weave their way through lines of defenders. Instead our backs take the ball at what seems like incredibly slow speeds and kind of bash in to the defenders.

Why do they take the ball so slow? No-one else does? Is it a tactic? I don't get it. If this is our international level, what do they do at club level? Walk?

Sean Lamont seems to be well admired and he does make a fair number of line breaks, but when he gets the ball, you are never expecting him to do some little side-step and dash through to the try-line.

I would give anything for a Scottish Shane Williams in the team. I find it hard to believe that he plays on the opposite wing to Nikki Walker. I know which wing I would be passing to.

Nikki - 11 trys in 45 games for Ospreys. 24%
Shane - 35 trys in 78 games for Ospreys. 45%

Anyhow, I've always reckoned that the main disadvantage that Scotland has is the number of prople playing rugby that it has to choose from. Scotland - 5 million people; England - 45 Million - so they's 9 times more people to choose from. As for Wales and New Zealand having less people than us - well the Welsh are just rugby mad, and the Kiwis have the Maoris.

Ian McGeechan once said that New Zealanders were just Scots who had learnt how to win.

Anyway, with regards to the number of people to choose from, I found an interesting article that suggests it is worse than the simple population stats would suggest. Put simply - not very many people in Scotland play rugby compared to other countries.

I've summarised it below (figures include women and children):

England - 1,000,000 players
France - 212,000
New Zealand - 141,000
Japan - 126,000
Ireland - 100,000
Argentina - 81,000
Zimbabwe - 55,000
Italy - 45,000
Wales - 42,000
Scotland - 24,000
Spain - 17,000
Madagasgar - 17,000
Chile - 16,000

It's worth reading this article, in which it is suggested that on the basis of the above numbers, Scotland actually punches above its weight. I would tend to agree.

So basically the problem is that we are a lazy nation who can't be arsed to play sport. That, or we just don't like rugby that much compared to football. I remember when I briefly played club rugby in Scotland and it was always a struggle to get 15 people together for the game. Half the team couldn't be bothered turning up because they were hungover. Quite sad really.

There are more deep-rooted problems with the SRU, but I won't go in to that now.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Small Town Oxford

Another night out in Oxford, another night blighted by an idiot. This time, some guy itching for a fight in Escape. He's just lucky I didn't go Kung-Fu on his ass.

Could be the bad choice of clubs that is the problem.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Man vs Machine...

...Man loses.

I love Doritos Chili Heat Wave crisps.

What I hate is when I go to the vending machine at work and the damn thing thinks that the row with the Chili Doritos is empty.



Alright then, I'll have some normal Cheese and Onion crisps instead. Pah! My night has been ruined.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Stornoway at Jericho Tavern

After Greg's recommendations, W and I went to the Jericho Tavern last night to see Stornoway play.

Special credit to Franziskaner for making nice beer.

Anyway, the music... I had briefly listened to theiur MySpace page and thought they were a kind of folksy Belle & Sebastien style band.

Very pleased to see that some of them started the gig wearing masks. In particular, you can't complain when a man wearing a horse head plays the trumpet. Very surreal in a kind of pagan-trippy-hippy kinda way. Like the Wickerman or something. Reminds me of the time I saw a man with a Zebra head walking past my lab door...

Although I was coming to see them I was expecting to see two support bands, but no-one else seemed to play. I wouldn't mind if it was a free gig but when you've paid money you kind of expect artists to turn up. Never mind, it was Stornoway we wanted to hear.

Their two songs of particular note are "The Good Fish Guide" which is worth listening to simply because it is a bit mental. "Here Comes the Blackout" is a fantastic song, surely worthy of a bigger stage. Go to their page just to listen to that song alone (don't forget the fish though). I'd consider buying their E.P. for that song alone.

One thing that I really hated about the gig was when horse head took off his head to reveal that he was in fact human. Unfortunately he started to read poetry. It really was the most pretentious, contrived crap I have ever heard in my life. He obviously thought he was quite good judging by the enthusiasm he put into the performance. I can only assume it was a friendly crowd familiar with this tosh, otherwise I would have expected a few pint glasses to be projected towards him. I hope horse head sticks to the trumpet when they gig outside of Oxford.

So, one song I really love, and I might buy their E.P., but I doubt I would see them play again thanks to horse-head.

Picture credit: Stornoway Fish Smokers - Stornoway's premier supplier of smoked fish, kippers, salmon, and shellfish.